Contaminants

Methylene Chloride and NMP in Paint Removers

What is methylene chloride? Methylene chloride is predominately used as a solvent in paint strippers and removers. It may also be found in some aerosol and pesticide products and is used in the manufacture of photographic film. It is a colorless liquid that has a sweet odor and is highly volatile, meaning that it quickly produces vapors. Another name for it is dichloromethane (DCM). Products that contain methylene chloride are listed by brand at the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Household Products Database at:

http://hpd.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/household/search?tbl=TblChemicals&queryx=75-09-2

What is NMP? NMP is a mildly volatile colorless liquid that is often used in paint removers instead of the more volatile methylene chloride. NMP is also used in petrochemical processing, engineering plastics, coatings, electronic cleaning, and agricultural chemicals.

Methylene Chloride is commonly found in the following household products: Paint strippers and removers
Spray shoe polish, water repellants
Wood floor and panel cleaners
Wood stains, varnishes, and finishes
Heavy-duty surface cleaners and rust removers
Glues and adhesives

Methylene Chloride is commonly found in the following industrial processes:
Paint strippers and removers
Spray shoe polish, water repellants
Wood floor and panel cleaners
Wood floor and panel cleaners
Wood stains, varnishes, and finishes
Heavy-duty surface cleaners and rust removers
Glues and adhesives

What are the potential risks to people? Methylene chloride occurs mostly from breathing contaminated air, but may also occur through skin contact or by drinking contaminated water. Breathing in large amounts of methylene chloride can damage the central nervous system and result in death. Since 2000, more that 13 deaths have been caused by paint removers containing methylene chloride when used to refinish a bathtub. The following video describes this tragedy with using approximately 6 ounces of an aircraft paint stripper: Methylene Chloride and Bathtubs: A Dangerous Combination: 7:58 video:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQtd41JcMGg

How Can I Get Exposed?

NTTC advises against any do-it-yourself projects with consumer products that contain methylene chloride or NMP. Personal protective equipment may not be used properly by untrained individuals and could lead to serious harm and in some cases, death. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommend that methylene chloride be regarded as a &potential occupational carcinogen& and that occupational exposures be controlled. Specific training is required for controlling occupational exposures to methylene chloride as described at:

www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3144.html

Paint removal projects may include bathtub refinishing, automotive refinishing, furniture refinishing, art restoration and conservation, aircraft paint stripping, ship paint stripping, graffiti removal, and refinishing of wood structures and flooring.

Alternatives to Methylene Chloride and NMP

There are effective and economically feasible alternative products for all situations in which paint removers containing methylene chloride or NMP are used.

What can I do?

  • Learn more by researching the resources or watching the videos listed below.
  • Learn more and provide comments to EPA on the regulations being developed for TCE at Potential TCE and Paint Remover Regulatory Revisions
  • Educate your community on the dangers of household hazardous waste.

    • If you have the ability to conduct outreach on household hazardous waste, consider using some of the information here and the resources below to highlight the dangers of methylene chloride in paint removers. With the lack of regulation to keep methylene chloride and NMP out of our household products, it is imperative that we educate ourselves and our communities about the hazards that can be found under our sinks and in our garages
    • Warnings, existing worker protection regulations, and personal protective equipment has failed at protecting people from dying from exposure to methylene chloride. Though less widely used and presenting a different toxicological hazard, paint removers containing NMP also present the public with significant health risks. Effectively marketed as &biodegradable& and &low VOC,& individual and consumer users of these products are not likely to realize the potential hazards, nor the need for specialized personal protection when using these products
  • Check your household products for hazardous chemicals.

    • Consumer products labeled with the following ingredients contain methylene chloride: Dichloromethane (DCM); Freon 30; Methane dichloride; Methane, dichloro-; Methylene bichloride; Methylene dichloride
  • Properly dispose of household hazardous waste.

    • The principle releases of methylene chloride to land are from the disposal of methylene chloride products and containers in landfills. Methylene chloride waste must be handled as a hazardous waste. It is necessary to locate a household hazardous waste facility or identify the next household hazardous waste collection date and location to properly dispose of any household hazardous waste including consumer products containing methylene chloride.
Significance to Tribes:

Decisions concerning TSCA Section 6(a) regulations may affect tribal populations’ exposure to methylene chloride and NMP and businesses in Indian Country using these products. Your comments may influence EPA’s regulatory action to adequately protect people against the risks associated with the use of methylene chloride and NMP and may limit further exposure to this toxic chemical through tribal resources. In addition to general comments, EPA requests input on any disproportionate public health or economic impacts that methylene chloride and NMP used in paint removers may have on tribal populations.

For more information go to NTTC
 Potential TCE and Paint Remover Regulatory Revisions

Please submit your experiences (successes/challenges) and tribal-specific documents to share on our website using the attached form:
 Case Study template
 

Resources:

NTTC Paint Removers Fact Sheet (2pp):
 View document

EPA's Notification of Consultation and Coordination on Proposed Rulemakings under the TSCA for 1) Methylene Chloride and NMP in Paint Removers and 2) TCE in Certain Uses:
 View document

EPA’s Background Information for Proposed Rulemaking under TSCA Section 6(a) for Paint emovers (6pp):
 View document

US EPA OCSPP’s TSCA Work Plan Chemical Risk Assessment N-Methylpyrrolidone: Paint Stripper Use (281pp):
 View document

US EPA OCSPP’s TSCA Work Plan Chemical Risk Assessment Methylene Chloride: Paint Stripper Use (169pp):
 View document

Websites

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Environmental Health Materials on TCE:
 www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=30

US Department of Health and Human Services’ Household Products Database search on Methylene Chloride:
 http://hpd.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/household/search?tbl=TblChemicals&queryx=75-09-2

OSHA Safety and Health Topics on Methylene Chloride:
 www.osha.gov/SLTC/methylenechloride/

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) information booklet on occupational exposures to methylene chloride:
 www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3144.html

NRDC’s Congress Must Expand Protections against Widely Used Harmful Chemicals: Methylene Chloride:
 www.nrdc.org/health/files/methyleneChloride.pdf
 www.nrdc.org/living/chemicalindex/methylene-chloride.asp

Webinars & Videos

Methylene Chloride and Bathtubs: A Dangerous Combination: 7:58 video
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQtd41JcMGg

Action Now
Take action now on toxics
NTTC Membership
View contact information for NTTC
members
Past Action
View past action on toxics by NTTC